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What’s the Best Shift to Work While in Nursing School?

In this article, we’re answering the question “what’s the best shift to work while in nursing school?”

So, what’s the best shift to work while in nursing school? The best shift to work while in nursing school is the weekend shifts. If you can handle working nights, night shift is also a great alternative.

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It’s Hard Working While Going to School

As someone who struggled paying for college and worked throughout RN school I understand how hard it is working while going to school.

Working when I was getting my first degree was hard, but it was much worse when I was in nursing school.

Because of those experiences I understand how important this question is because trying to find time for both work, school, studying and everything else is definitely challenging.

The Best Shifts to Work As a Nursing Student

Before we start here’s some things to keep in mind.

Shifts that are available for you to work will depend on your job.

For example, if you work as a nurse aid in a hospital than you’re going to have weekends and night shifts available to you.

If you work in retail then you’re not going to have night shift available to you but you’ll probably have evenings and weekends as an option.

For the sake of simplicity, we’re only going to talk about shifts in general. Just ignore the parts that aren’t available to you based on your job.

Now that we’ve taken care of that let me start by saying that my absolute favorite shift to work as a nursing student was the weekend shift.

Why I Like the Weekend Shifts

Here are some of the reasons why I liked the weekend shifts. 

  1. You don’t have school or clinicals those days. I also worked during the week day and it was always a little harder to make work fit in. 
  2. Nobody likes working the weekends so it’s easy for me to get my hours. I worked in a hospital and the weekends (including Friday) were just easier to find the hours because that’s usually when other people don’t want to work.
  3. Weekend shift differentials. This will only apply if you work in the hospital setting but because I know many of you will it’s definitely a big plus that can make a difference.

The Downsides of Working the Weekends

The weekends are not all just roses there are some downsides to them. For starters:

  1. It’s the weekend. Enough said it’s the weekend. That’s when your friends are going to want to go out and all the parties are happening. 
  2. You’re losing one of the big study days. In nursing school the weekdays can be very hectic and the weekends are one of the few days were things quiet down to give you a chance to catch up.

What About Working the Night Shift for Nursing School?

I have met many nursing students who are working third-shift while attending nursing. Here’s my two cents because I definitely see the advantages of working the nights while attending school.

If you can manage well working night shift and still be able to study, sleep, and take care of yourself than night shift might be an option for you, otherwise you should stick to a dayshift schedule.

The Pros of Working Night Shift

Here are some of the reasons why nurses resort to working the third shift during school.

  • No scheduling conflict. If you’re working the third shift you don’t have to worry about scheduling around classroom time or clinicals if you’re working 7p-7a or 11p-7a.
  • Some people really do well working nights. Surprisingly there are some people who manage to do well working nights and with the added work flexibility they just roll with it.

The Cons of Working Night Shift

  • Night shift wrecks havoc on your health. Working night shift is bad for your health. There are multiple studies that show this. For example, one study shows that night shift workers have a higher rate of obesity, diabetes and cancer (source). 
  • It wrecks havoc on your personal life. Keeping up with your personal life working night shift can be difficult. Ask any night shift worker.
  • It’s going to be hard studying. If you’ve never worked night shift before than you need to understand that it’s probably going to be rough. To me there’s a haziness and tiredness that comes working nights that makes studying (or doing anything that requires mental acuity) difficult. It’s also possible I just don’t handle night shift very well.

The Schedule I worked During Nursing School

Here’s an example of the schedules I worked as a nursing student and some of the ones I’ve seen other nurses do. 

Schedule 1

Working doubles on the weekends. This is the schedule I worked the most as a student.

The nice thing about this schedule is it’s a quick way to get 32 hours (16 hours on Saturday + 16 hours on Sunday) 

You can also mix this with working a couple of hours here and there through the week to get even more hours.

Frequently Asked Questions

These are some faqs related to ideal shifts to work while going to nursing school. 

Can you go to nursing school while working full-time?

Yes, you can go to nursing school while working full-time. It’s difficult and would require having a job with flexible hours and you would have to be very disciplined to be able to get everything you need to do done.

What jobs can I do while in nursing school?

Here are some of the jobs you could do while in nursing school:
1. Nurse Assistant
2. Medical Assistant
3. Hospital Transporter
4. Phlebotomist
5. Working in Retail
6. Waiter/Waitress

Related Article: Can you go to nursing school while working full-time?

Final Thoughts

You’ve heard my take on what I think is the best shift to work while you’re going to nursing school.

Do you have a different opinion? 

Let me and of course all the other readers know in the comment section below.

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